Amanda And David Jacob Talk About Life In The New Normal On Tatler's February 2021 Cover
Our family life couldn’t be more divergent from what it was,” declares Amanda Griffin Jacob, former model, VJ and wellness, health and justice advocate. “In the past, we were all on a plane almost every month. Travel was one of the central tenets of our family.” Amanda, her husband David and their four children have been living abroad for more than 12 years now—first in Hong Kong and for the past six years, Singapore. The couple, however, possesses deep Filipino roots having both grown up in the Philippines.
Pre-pandemic, Amanda “would fly to Manila every three weeks for work commitments and I would always bring the younger kids along”. David, CEO of Marsh Asia, an insurance brokering and risk management firm, often travelled for work as well. “This is the first time in our 13-year relationship that David and I have been together for a whole year straight,” shares Amanda. “That, by itself, was an adjustment, but a good one for us. It has been such a blessing to have him around all the time, especially as he can now share the emotional, mental and physical load with me when it comes to the children.”
In the past, we were all on a plane almost every month. Travel was one of the central tenets of our family
Amanda and David have four beautiful children. Three are boys: Kieran, 11, who is “extremely intelligent, strong-willed and excels in most things he puts his mind to”; Kalon, 8, “the kindest, gentlest, most empathetic soul you will meet”; and Kyle, 2, “our little tornado”. Their only daughter, Lila, is five and “she really is a bit of a paradox”, says her mother. “She’s sweet and salty, introverted but fierce. She is very artistic and loves to create beauty all around her.”
“I am more of the provider and Amanda is the nurturer,” explains David. “She has such an amazing bond with the children and is determined to always do the best for them. Amanda is passionate, loving, thoughtful, full of life, disciplined, focused, determined and a true environmentalist. I enjoyed this year as I was able to spend more time with the family and work on my quality time with everyone.”
The family lives near the trendy neighbourhood of Holland Village, in a refurbished black and white house with a large garden, a pool and lots of wide, open spaces perfect for the family of six. When asked what the dynamic is like between the kids, Amanda laughingly replies: “Noisy, but full of love!” According to her, “there is never a quiet moment in the Jacob household”. David, an audiophile, loves to DJ for the whole family, so there is always music in the background. He also plays tennis with the boys, while the two girls love to sit around and chat. Despite the expected altercations between siblings, “which are usually short-lived and they go back to being buddies quite quickly”. Amanda adds: “Lila and Kalon are particularly close, but all my children have unique and special relationships with one another. It is such a joy to watch them.”
The couple has been married for 12 years, and much like the different deep house mixes that David is known for, an overlay of soulful beats that blend together, the pair have proven to be truly complementary. “I really view David as my oak tree, strong, mighty and grounded,” says Amanda about her husband. “In many respects, we are total opposites. I am quite emotional, passionate and determined whereas he is naturally laid back and has a very calming demeanour. I think that because Dave is almost a decade older [than I] and has that life experience and career position, I often seek his opinion and advice for business and life matters. When it comes to the kids though, he concedes that I usually am more in tune with them and their needs. He really is my safe haven.”
David, for his part, says, “Amanda has taught me how to be more impactful in society and the environment. That change happens when we each make a difference. There are no excuses, as we can all do our part to help each other. She has taught me how to take more ownership in life and I love her even more for that.”
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When it comes to parenting, Amanda is a self-proclaimed disciplinarian. “My parents always emphasised politeness, etiquette and compassion and I have definitely infused a lot of that into my own parenting style,” she explains. “I’m very affectionate and like to have fun with them but I’m not afraid to be the party pooper and bad cop when necessary. David is the fun one who lets more slide. His rationale is that he works all day and was travelling so much that he didn’t want to have to come home and be the villain. I completely understand that. Although this year he has had to split the role of bad cop more with me since he’s now home all the time!”
David would like his kids “to just to be all-around, amazing people! Kind, selfless and always looking to help others and to make a difference. I want to instil hard work and discipline as well as teach them to be independent and go after want they want in life.”
Most parents must walk the fine line of educating their children and allowing their own characters and personalities to bloom and blossom. This is something Amanda navigates gracefully. “I think that we unwittingly view our children as a chance at a do-over on the missteps and mistakes we may have made in our lives. I know that my children might not have the same philosophies as me; and I must be okay with that because children are not extensions of you, they are individuals with their own ideas and beliefs. You can only guide them and hope that whatever you teach them resonates with them.”
Apart from being the “supermom” that Dave so lovingly describes her as, Amanda continues to grow her online platform, “Glam-O-Mamas”, through which she advocates health and wellness for the whole family. She also has been recently appointed by International Justice Mission (IJM) as its first ambassador to support the fight against the live streaming of child sexual abuse. Since learning about this heinous crime and its impact on children across the Philippines, she has resolved to use her voice and platform—and rally other influencers to do the same—to elevate this issue to the global consciousness until every child anywhere in the world is protected from such unspeakable suffering. Taking a stand and helping others are part of the learnings that she would like to impart to her children.
“The legacy I want my children to inherit is to always make the time to help the less fortunate. I hope that they see my work with IJM and understand that
it should be a part of their ideology and life’s work to really help people, especially our fellow Filipinos. I believe that our children are always watching everything we parents do and say, and a lot of what they see often becomes their inherent internal guide which is why it is essential to be good role models
for them as much as you can be. I would love for my children to really embrace our credo of being kind and considerate to others. These days so many people seem to be in a rush, oblivious of others. The love and care for community and each other appears to have lost importance. I really believe it is vital not to abandon these values. And this starts at home.”
Family is everything to me. My sanctuary, my soul, my life. Actually, that really describes Amanda but my family as well
— David Jacob
Consequently, both David and Amanda feel that some of the greatest lessons can be taught to them by their own children. “Pre-kids, your life and focus are solely on yourself; but once you have kids your axis shifts,” Amanda explains. “Thanks to my children I am on a perpetual journey to better and educate myself so I can be better for them.” David says he has learnt “to always stay positive and laugh at the silliest things. They have taught me how to be more patient and be more present in their lives”.
He then fervently expresses: “Family is everything to me. My sanctuary, my soul, my life. Actually, that really describes Amanda but my family as well.”
“Family is everything to me too,” echoes Amanda. “It is something that my Dad instilled in me from a very early age. My immediate family is quite small. And cousins and other family are scattered all over the globe, so I don’t have that tightknit large family that most of my friends have and have always admired and craved. So, my little tribe is the most important in my life.”
Amanda’s mother and sister live in Australia and her brother lives in Bali, while David’s family resides in Manila. It has been the longest time they have not seen them. “It has been very difficult,” he shares. “I love my family and have not seen them since March before the lockdown. You realise how precious those pre-pandemic moments were. I’m definitely going to spend more quality time once we can travel again and will never take those occasions for granted.”
- Photography Franz Navarrete